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Old-World Teas and Modern Cocktail Mixology

Shawn RefouaMay 20th, 2009 by Shawn Refoua

As mixologists, we are continually experimenting with new flavors and sensations to create simple cocktails with complex flavor profiles to share with the world. Trends play an important part in the creativity and development of new drinks. Today, we see a major movement toward healthier living and longer life. Products that focus on low-cholesterol and a healthy heart have long been prevalent on our supermarket shelves.

Tea in combination with alcohol is one of the newest health trends to stimulate the palates of consumers in the states. Teas have intense aromatics that arouse the nose as well as ingredients that have well documented therapeutic properties. Many teas possess polyphenols which are active ingredients in tea which appear to have antioxidant and anticancer properties and are also thought to lower cholesterol.

Some ingredients in tea prevent blood clots, similar to aspirin. Other beneficial chemicals in tea include fluoride, which is protective against tooth decay.aperitea_martini560

In contrast to the often sweet and over ripe characteristics found in the fruit usually mixed with spirits, tea possesses tannin, an ingredient popularly associated with red wine. Tannin has a remarkable ability to balance our palates against the sugar in cocktails.

Tannin also provides complex interaction with the proteins found in many of our foods which adds a unique gastronomic element when tea is used in cocktails. The bitter oils and acids found in different teas provide greater nuance and complexity to our spirited beverages. We have just begun to scratch the surface of teas ability to enhance the spirits we drink.

Bottles with alcoholThere are several ways to incorporate tea into alcohol. The two main ways are to either add the tea directly to a drink or steep/infuse the tea into the alcohol itself. By simply adding tea, one can brew their favorite flavors and combine them with the alcohol of their choice (currently the top liquor used is vodka, closely followed by gin and scotch). Through steeping, one infuses the tea essence directly into the alcohol allowing for the extraction of certain desired flavors as well as a product with a longer shelf-life and an easier to pour/more consistent taste.

Many tea-infused products have already hit stores and are making their way to bars around the world. Some of the more popular brands are:

Suntory Zen Green Tea Liquor
Qi Spirits
Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka
Aperitea Mixers

Here is a wonderful cocktail recipe incorporating Mighty Leaf tea.

Danielle’s Monkey Mint Tea Cocktail

1 oz. Citron Vodka
6 oz. brewed Mighty Leaf Marrakesh Mint Green Tea (cool)
1 oz. 100% Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
1 tbsp honey syrup* (two parts honey, one part warm water)

Mix together honey, citron vodka, pomegranate juice, and cold Marrakesh Mint Green Tea tea.  Shake well and serve over ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lemon wheel.

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